Sleep Tight: Science-Backed Ways to Stop Mouth Breathing

You might be looking at the title a bit confused: Why would I need to stop breathing through my mouth? Is it bad for me?

When the nose is congested due to a cold or an allergy, we naturally start breathing through the mouth until it clears up, which is perfectly fine. However, when we breathe through the mouth all the time, especially at night, it can lead to some unpleasant complications.


Here’s what you need to know about mouth breathing and how to stop it.

What are the consequences of mouth breathing?

In children, mouth breathing can cause facial deformities and crooked teeth.

In adults, it can cause bad breath, a dry mouth, and gum disease. It can also contribute to snoring, have you waking up tired and fatigued, and cause brain fog.

How do you know if you are a mouth breather?

There is no specific test for mouth breathing, but if you recognize any of the above symptoms, you may be doing it without realising it.

You can ask your partner to listen for breathing sounds when you sleep and try to figure out your breathing patterns during an afternoon nap. You can also consult a doctor and tell them your suspicions. They will take it from there, checking your nose and throat.

What are the causes of mouth breathing?

Mouth breathing is most often caused by a complete or partial obstruction in the nasal airway. This means there is something in your nose blocking the air from getting through, and your body is not getting enough oxygen that way.

This something could be congestion from an allergy or an infection, or even enlarged tonsils or adenoids, nasal polyps, or you may have a deviated septum.
However, mouth breathing can also become a habit, and you can stick to it even after the obstruction has cleared. Not to mention, stress and anxiety are also major contributors to mouth breathing, causing shallow and rapid breaths inhaled through the mouth.

How to stop mouth breathing?

The first thing you need to know is what causes your mouth breathing.

If it’s congestion caused by an allergy or a virus, you can treat it with nasal sprays, antihistamines, and other medicine your doctor prescribes.

If you have sleep apnea, your doctor will prescribe a CPAP mask that will help you breathe properly while sleeping and get enough oxygen into your system.

There are also adhesive strips you can try. They are called nasal dilators and applied across the nostrils, helping decrease resistance and allowing you to breathe through your nose more easily.

However, there are other things you can try as a mouth breather:

Tape your mouth – Although it might sound unusual, mouth taping might be an effective method because it helps remind your body to do what it does naturally – breathe through your nose.

Sleep on your back and keep your head elevated – This will help open up your airway and breathe easier. Use saline mists for your nose when traveling. Long flights can cause your nose to congest and will make breathing a bit more difficult, which is where the saline mist can help.

Use the same mist when you feel a cold or allergy coming on – That way, you won’t have to wait for the symptoms to get worse before you start treating them.
Determine what causes your allergies and try to keep your house clean of the allergens. There are different tests you can do to determine what causes your stuffy nose.

Use air filters in your home – They will purify the air and keep pollutants and allergens out of your space. Practice nose breathing while awake. If you have formed a mouth-breathing habit, consciously reminding yourself to breathe through your nose will slowly get rid of it.

Practice yoga – Yoga is a great way to relax both your mind and body. As it focuses on deep breaths through the nose, it will set you on the right track.
Meditate. Meditation is another technique that teaches both relaxation and nose breathing, and it does not need to take up a lot of your time.

While it may not sound particularly dangerous, and seems more like a quirk, mouth breathing can lead to health issues and make your life more uncomfortable by robbing you of a good night’s sleep. If you suspect you are a mouth breather, try some of the science-backed tips from above, and you should solve your problem with enough persistence.

Photos: freepik and Unsplash


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